Gelman grew up in a Jewish family in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, Illinois. While earning a degree in broadcast production management from the University of Colorado School of Journalism, Gelman worked for the U. S. Ski Association covering pre-Olympic trials all over the country as a cameraman, field producer and editor. Gelman's most important internship came during the summer of his junior year at WABC-TV in New York, the station that would later produce Live! with Kelly and Ryan. In the 1980s he became a production assistant on Regis Philbin's local talk show, The Morning Show. Gelman worked his way to Executive Producer on The Morning Show which would eventually become Live!.